- PROBLEMS, ACHIEVEMENT (2)
WAGE REVISION IN BSNL
The settlement about conversion from CDA to IDA pay scales with effect from 1st October 2000 and consequent benefits to the workers have already been mentioned earlier. The next wage revision in PSUs was due with effect from January 2007, both to those whose 5 year Revision was made in 2002 and 10 year revision in 1997.
As per recommendations of the II Pay Revision Committee (PRC), executives of central PSUs, including BSNL, were granted pay revision with 30% fitment. Wage revision of non-executives is on the basis of negotiation and settlement. BSNLEU, recognized union, demanded for early wage revision. Leaders of Central Public Sector Trade Unions (CPSTU) met Prime Minister and demanded early decision in all PSUs. It had its effect in BSNL. The negotiations on wage revision started.
BSNLEU called all non-executive unions in BSNL to discuss and decide the strategy and demands in the wage negotiation as was done earlier, but NFTE and FNTO were not willing to participate. They seemed to be more interested in failure of the negotiation, probably with the next Membership Verification in mind. They tried to create many hurdles in wage negotiation.
At this stage, management imposed a condition that union should accept VRS, if wage negotiation is to start. BSNLEU rejected the condition, organized demonstration and dharna in front of the corporate office. Met Communications Minister. Management was compelled to withdraw the pre-condition and start negotiations. 50% DA was merged with pay.
Central Executive Committee of the union held at Kochi formed a committee to study and prepare a memorandum on our demand on pay revision. The report prepared was discussed with our partner unions in the United Forum. The negotiating committee from union side included representatives from all unions in the United Forum, which were our alliance partners. Demand for pay revision in five years was not accepted by management. Management tried to delay negotiations stating that the company was in loss.
It was only after the unions affiliated to United Forum headed by BSNLEU, went on a two day successful strike on 19-20 May 2009 that serious discussion started. Another strike on 19-20 against lethargic attitude and non-cooperation of management.
NFTE and FNTO demanded the management that they were prepared to accept whatever Management was proposing. They submitted letters from hundreds of employees to that effect. It was intended to derail the discussion, but BSNLEU stood firm on the demands. After grueling and detailed discussion wage revision agreement was signed between the management and the recognized union.
Though agreement was signed on 15th January 2010, BSNL did not approve it pointing out many objections. At last it was sent to DOT for approval on 10th March 2010. Against further delay in DOT, General Secretaries of United Forum led by BSNLEU gave notice for indefinite hunger strike with effect from 12th April. Discussions were held with Secretary DOT and Communications Minister. In the discussions held with Minister, he gave direction to management to issue the orders within 15 days. Accordingly orders on pay revision were issued on 7th May 2010 by the BSNL Management.
What are the main achievements of the wage revision?
- The lowest pay scales of Rs.4,000 – 5,800 was increased to Rs. 7,760 – 13,320. The highest pay scales increased from Rs. 8,570 – 12,245 to Rs. 16,370 – 30,630.
- 30% fitment.
- Annual increment 3% of the new pay scale.
- Stagnation increment will be 3%. 3 Stagnation increment after every two years.
- One additional increment @ 3% on promotion.
- HRA and other allowances
- A new scheme will be worked out for Bonus.
- Pension as per Rule 37-A of CCS (Pension ) Rules 1972 from Central government.
- Orders with effect from 01-01-2007.
Comrades P.Abhimanyu, P.Asoka Babu, R.Venkat Raman, V.Subburaman, Suresh Kumar and other comrades in the committee gave valuable contribution in the negotiation.
It was only through continuous struggles, including two successful strikes, that a beneficial agreement could be signed. The wage expense in the earlier year was about Rs.8,000 which rose to about Rs. 14,000 crores, despite the fact that many employees had retired. One of the best wage revision of telecom employees so far. An increase of about 40% in the wage bill. Further, the workers got a good amount as arrears due w.e.f. 01-01-2007.
Telecom employees all over the country accepted the wage revision as a great victory. It was an appreciation of the strong and effective stand and struggles organized by BSNLEU.
Loans from PSU Banks
Since there was acute delay and much difficulty in getting various loans from BSNL, BSNLEU put the demand that arrangements be made with the PSU Banks for taking loans. A Joint Committee of Official side and Staff Side were constituted. Com.P.Abhimanyu was the staff member. Management proposal to include private banks was rejected by staff side. First discussions were held with Canara Bank and Corporation Bank. Agreement was reached for taking various loans for construction / purchase of house, car, two wheeler, Personal loan, loan for natural disaster etc.
Change of Designation of cadres
There were about 70 cadres and separate designations for them when BSNL was formed. This was due to the unscientific and irregular way of naming designations to the new cadres formed due to the requirement of the developing services and technology. After detailed discussions the designations of many cadres were changed as demanded. However, it took some more years to change the designation of TTA to Junior Engineer. (to be continued)